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Is constituent experience an art or science?

Is constituent experience an art or science? It is part art and part science and a whole lot of social science. It is more social science than technology. In understanding how constituents connect with you mission, it helps to understand a little about psychology, sociology, and anthropology. It is all about experience. Understanding “why” an experience wasn’t enjoyable is important. Falling into the trap that it is all about “likes” on social media can be misleading. It doesn’t matter how many like you if the other experiences aren’t enjoyable, simple and meet what the constituent needs.

The digital experience is about people. It is about how they feel about all their interactions with us. They may have just attended an amazing event and had a lot of fun. They enjoyed it. When they went to your website afterward to find out how the event did, they could find what they wanted. Then, no one bothered to thank them. Then a few days after the event, they got an email asking them to give clearly indicating you don’t know them. What is their overall experience with you? Both digital and real world experiences add up to answer that question. Focusing on what people said to you on the way out the door of the event can give a false impression.

A totally branded constituent experience will come down to the role you play in listening, engaging, and meeting the needs (translate deliver value) before, during and after a transaction. That is precisely why the habit of direct mail applied to the connected constituent is so dangerous.

Being thoughtful and intentional about unifying the constituent experience ensures we are listening and connecting. The kind of content we create or curate needs to be engaging and consistent with our brand promise. Do we understand the psychology of why a constituent experience was inconsistent with a constituent expectation and hence unenjoyable?

Are you ready for a new generation of constituents?

Are you ready for a new generation of constituents? Nonprofit leaders, meet the Millennials. Millennials, met XYZ nonprofit. Oops, there is a gap here. Most nonprofit leaders aren’t a part of Generation Y (also known as Millennials). Generation Y is considered to be individuals born in the early 1980s to 2000s. They come after Generation X. Millennials represent an important emerging group of potential constituents as they are also sometimes referred to as “echo boomers”. This refers to their size relative to the large group of Baby Boomers. In the US, birth rates peaked in 1990. It is helpful to know that Millennials have distinctly different behaviors, values and attitudes from previous generations as a response to the technological and economic implications of the internet.

Society and technology is evolving faster than many nonprofits can adapt. We have to come to grips with the fact that constituent landscapes are not only changing, they are evolving beyond our grasp. You and your leadership team are not dealing with constituents you know and recognize. You are in fact talking to strangers.

This means that we all need to spend a lot of time understanding what is important to this evolving group of constituents. Why would they want to engage with our mission? How do they make decisions? Without that level of empathy, we can’t create meaningful experiences for this emerging and important constituent. This group is critical to your future volunteers, advocates and donors. This would be the time to start designing experiences based on their interest and behavior.

Here is some information that may be helpful in looking at these strangers known as Gen Y:

  • Seventy-three percent have earned and used virtual currency.
  • Gen Y will form about 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 and are already actively shaping corporate culture and expectations. Only 11 percent define having a lot of money as a definition of success.
  • Sixty-six percent will look up a store if they see a friend check in.
  • Start-ups dominate the work force for Gen Y’ers. Only 7 percent work for a Fortune 500 company. They expect large organizations to hear their voice and recognize their contributions. They need an “intrapreneurial” culture.
  • They are three times as likely to follow a brand over family members in social networks.
  • Millennials watch TV with two or more electronic devices.
  • Millennials trust strangers over friends and family when it comes time for purchase decisions. They value user-generated experiences heavily.
  • Twenty-nine percent find love through Facebook while 33 percent are dumped via TXT or Wall posts. (I’m not making this up)
  • Gen Y’ers believe that other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do. That is why they share their opinions online.
  • Most people on Facebook have about 240 friends. Gen Y’ers maintain about 696 friends.

We need to bridge the gap from being strangers to becoming partners.

Population by Generation

Do you know you are a global nonprofit?

June 2, 2013 1 comment

You are a global nonprofit. Do you act like it?

Your audience is 2.4 billion potential constituents. You have international reach. Are you designing experiences with that audience in mind? The top 15 countries saw year to year growth of about 15% new users in 2012. Much of that is in emerging markets. The U.S has the highest penetration with 78% of the population connected. China added 264 million new users last year with only 42% penetration.

Key takeaway: You are a global nonprofit. Keep that in mind as you design the constituent experience.

Global Internet Users - 2012

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